Switzerland probably conjures a lot of images of country towns nestled in the Alps and of farmers and old-fashioned jobs. But did you know it actually could be becoming the new tech entrepreneur’s destination? For a long time it was where banking was primarily done because of heavy security in Swiss banks, and because the Swiss government had some of the fewest regulations on banking in the world. But that’s changed now and Mike Baur, a former banking professional has experienced the changes which is why he is now investing in the next generation of entrepreneurs. The company he’s started to do that is the Swiss Startup Factory in Zurich.
Managing and protecting clients’ wealth is what Mike Baur knows very well. At only age 16 he came to UBS Bank to start his banking apprenticeship. The human resources director he spoke to at the time went over a chart that covered every promotion Baur could earn at UBS and where he should expect to retire. Baur did become one of the top employees at UBS and a favorite of his superiors. He developed quite a finance and investing acumen making him a lead advisor while still only in his 20s. Baur’s banking career continued to grow over the years, but when the US banking crisis of 2008 reached Switzerland and the doors of UBS, things started changing. Baur left UBS and became head of the credit division of Clariden Leu Bank where he stayed for the next few years until it merged with Credit Suisse. Despite his hope that things would restart for his original plans, banking was now too restricted and was no longer something Baur was passionate about.
Mike Baur started feeling that instead of hoarding away money in safety deposit boxes and vaults, it should be used to invest in new businesses. He saw great potential at Swiss and other European universities to tap into the ideas of business graduates coming out of them, but he needed a network of investors. Baur and his friend Max Meister had several connections who loved the plan for an accelerator including the Goldback Group, and in 2014 the SSUF was formed. The SSUF allows people with business ideas to apply to a 3-month course, and if they pass the vetting, pass the tests of the course and make a successful investment pitch to target investors, they can get the capital funding and office space they need. The SSUF has seen the successful launch of thousands of startups thus far.